When is the best time to come on holiday to Cornwall? Because Cornwall has its own climate, it’s one of the best year-round destinations in the UK. To help you plan your visit, we’ll take a closer look at the different seasons in Cornwall.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Cornwall has a subtropical climate. We qualify for this exotic-sounding status because we have at least seven months a year when the average temperature exceeds 10oC. If you’re looking for a winter break in the UK, Cornwall is an excellent bet, as the average temperature rarely dips below 4oC.
The summers may not be as hot as other regions such as the South East; however, that cooling sea breeze is actually very pleasant. Expect average daytime temperatures of around 19oC. The warm weather continues into September (one of the best times to visit Cornwall – more about this later).
This consistently warm climate explains the beautiful gardens of Cornwall, as well as unexpected producers such as vineyards and tea plantations. These wonderful plants also need a decent amount of rainfall, and you will need to pack your waterproofs for any time of year.
What time of year is the sea warmest in Cornwall? From July to September, the sea reaches temperatures of between 16 and 17°C – lovely and warm for swimming and watersports. In the winter, this plunges to between 4 and 9°C (although going by the number of Christmas and New Year “dips”, it’s still balmy in there). Bring or hire a winter wetsuit if you’re planning to swim off-season.
Many surf schools still operate in the off-seasons, sea conditions permitting. There won’t be lifeguard cover on the beaches, so please be aware of this if you’re an open water swimmer.
However, if you’re here to admire the sea rather than actually be in it, the winter is a wonderful time to visit the Cornish coast. From the stormy beauty of a windswept evening to a suddenly sunny day with that matchless clear light, the sea in winter can be breathtakingly stunning.
When is the best time to visit Cornwall? That depends on what you want to do and see here, and whether you have school-aged children! Here’s a look at the key pros and cons for each season.
You’ll be rewarded with blooming woodlands and coastal pathways as well as increasingly warm weather. The roads are quieter (either side of Easter), and attractions are starting to open up again. The sea’s still a bit too nippy for us typical swimmers, but nothing that a good wetsuit won’t cure.
In early spring, there won’t be as many attractions and restaurants open; however, the quieter lanes and villages more than make up for this. It’s also a wonderful time to explore the county’s footpaths and cycle routes.
It’s busier, but there’s a lot going on in Cornwall in the summer. All the attractions are open, and most hold special family events. There are festivals and celebrations, from ancient local fairs to events like Boardmasters. The sea is lovely and warm, with lifeguarded beaches, boat trips and all sorts of water sports on offer.
But yes, there are a lot more people (and cars), and you’ll probably pay more for things like car parks. With a bit of planning and a willingness to use public transport, you can actually avoid spending too much time queuing. Book attractions ahead, and aim to visit the beach before breakfast or in the evening (a beach picnic as the sun goes down really is one of life’s joys).
Worth noting: there are dog restrictions on a lot of Cornwall’s beaches during the main season. This doesn’t mean that dogs are banned: in most cases, the rules simply state hours when dogs can and can’t visit beaches. Find out more about dog restrictions on Cornish beaches from the council’s website.
This is a beautiful time to come to Cornwall, especially if we’re enjoying an Indian summer. The sea is still a pleasant 16 to 17°C, but with the schools back, you’ll find a lot more space on the sand.
October half term is a popular time for family holidays in Cornwall, with plenty of Halloween activities going on in places like the Eden Project and National Trust properties. After the autumn half term, many attractions start to wind down for the winter.
Cosy pubs, windswept walks, Christmas markets, half-empty car parks… The Cornish winter has a lot going for it! Cornwall is much more than a seaside holiday destination, and the winter can be the best time to appreciate the county’s wild beauty.
Some attractions are open all year (Eden, Heligan, Tate St Ives, the National Maritime Museum), and look out for special Christmas events, fairs and festivals. January and February are the wettest months to visit Cornwall: perfect for browsing galleries and enjoying long pub lunches.
First time visitor to Cornwall? Here are our top tips for your visit (at any time of year):
If you’re driving down, time your route to avoid the busiest periods and plan some fun stop-offs along the way.
Don’t trust your satnav: some of our roads are very narrow.
Research public transport and day tickets to make getting around easier.
Download the Surfers Against Sewage app, which gives you the tide times for your favourite beaches.
Book visits to popular attractions in advance, online.
Ditto restaurants! For popular food destinations (such as Padstow and St Ives), you might even want to reserve your table before your holiday
See what local festivals, fairs and celebrations are happening during your holiday. Cornish special events are always worth a visit.
If you’re bringing your dog to Cornwall, check out your nearest dog-friendly beaches, paths and pubs
Pack for all weathers, even in the summer!
Whenever you choose to visit Cornwall, our hotel is an excellent choice. We have terraces for al fresco summer lunches and cosy fires for wintertime drinks, and our indoor infinity pool is perfect at any time of year. Take a look at our availability at The Cornwall.